The Canadian women’s national hockey team will be making a five-day pit stop in Leamington before heading off to compete in their next international competition.
With the 2017 IIHF Women’s World Championships to take place in Plymouth, Mich., Hockey Canada announced the Leamington Kinsmen Recreation Complex as the host site for the Canadian team’s pre-tournament practice schedule. The team’s full 23-player roster will converge at the LKRC for four practices and two scrimmages at Unico Arena before heading off to Plymouth for their first game of the World Championships.
Canada’s lineup for both the Leamington practice schedule and the annual tournament will include Ruthven’s Megan Agosta, a former Cardinal Carter Catholic Secondary School student. Although precise times have not yet been arranged, Hockey Canada expects that Canadian players will make meet-and-greet appearances either prior to and/or following on-ice sessions in Leamington.
“Typically, they’re very involved with anyone who’s around for that sort of thing,” explained Hockey Canada media relations coordinator Morgan Bell. “They like to stop and chat, answer questions and take photos. They love seeing the fans there, especially the young ones.”
The national team’s schedule at Unico Arena has been arranged as follows:
• Friday, March 24 — 9:30 a.m. to 11 a.m. practice, 4 p.m. to 5:30 p.m. practice;
• Saturday, March 25 — 10 a.m. to 11:30 a.m. practice;
• Sunday, March 26 — 3:30 p.m. game versus opponent to be determined;
• Tuesday, March 28 — 10 a.m. to 11 a.m. practice, 7:30 p.m. game versus opponent to be determined.
Bell explained that smaller communities are typically chosen for pre-tournament preparation for the Canadian women’s national team, as they make travel to and from practice sites easier than in larger cities. Smaller towns, she noted, have also proven more favourable for team-building activities between practices.
Scrimmage games such as the two scheduled in Leamington are most often played against a random collection of local players — usually of midget ages — although such arrangements have not yet been confirmed for the Unico schedule. For instances where head-to-head contests against local players cannot be accommodated, the national team will play intersquad matches.
Tentatively, Team Canada’s tournament schedule is slotted to begin Friday, March 31 with a preliminary game against the hosting United States. The Americans remain a question mark amongst participating countries, as the team is presently taking a stance to opt out based on disagreements with USA Hockey relating to financial compensation for players. A media conference is scheduled for Wednesday, March 22 to bring the public up to date on the situation.
“As of now (Friday, March 17), the U.S. won’t play,” said Bell. “It’s something that everybody’s taking one day at a time.”
Of the players on Canada’s roster for Leamington and Plymouth, 16 were silver medalists with the 2016 IIHF squad and 13 were on the team that won gold at the 2014 Winter Olympics in Sochi. Agosta represented Team Canada on both occasions.
More information on Team Canada’s program can be found at www.HockeyCanada.ca or by following the team on Facebook or Twitter.